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Kentucky and the Second American Revolution

Kentucky and the Second American Revolution: The War of 1812

Copyright Date: 1976
Edition: 1
Pages: 134
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky and the Second American Revolution
    Book Description:

    Alarmed by infringements upon American commerce during the Napoleonic Wars, Kentuckians were early proponents of war with Great Britain. As a frontier state, Kentucky feared exposure to raids by British troops and their Indian allies. And so, when President Madison finally obtained a declaration of war, patriotic Kentuckians rushed to arms.

    Kentucky's involvement in the agitation for war and in the war itself had political, social, and psychological consequences for the Commonwealth. In this compelling narrative, author James Wallace Hammack, Jr., traces those consequences and Kentucky's role in the developments of the war, which Kentuckians viewed as an effort to secure the American victory won in the Revolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5063-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    The War of 1812 had its origins in Anglo-American controversies over neutral rights during a period when the world’s greatest powers, Great Britain and France, were locked in mortal combat. But for the post-Revolutionary War generation of young Kentuckians, the War of 1812 seemed as much a war for American independence as was the Revolution itself. Upon learning, in June 1812, that the United States had declared war against Great Britain, the LexingtonReporterproclaimed: “The dreadful, deadly chord [sic] which anchored us along side of death and destruction is once more cut, and we are again afloat on the...

    (pp. 1-15)

    When the news reached Kentucky on July 15, 1803, that Great Britain and France were again at war after less than two years of peace, it caused little excitement. In the FrankfortPalladium, the editor, William Hunter, termed the resumption of war in Europe a “highly interesting” development. It would, he predicted, “necessarily have some effect on the commerce and foreign relations of the United States.” But few in Kentucky suspected that the effect would be so great as to lead the United States to declare war on Great Britain nine years later.

    Even the events of 1804 to 1806...

    (pp. 16-39)

    For the young United States war against Great Britain was a daring and hazardous enterprise. Great Britain, in the early nineteenth century, was preeminent on the oceans and in the colonial world. In Europe Britain’s power was rivaled only by that of France. So long as the Napoleonic wars lasted, it could be predicted with certainty that the principal weight of England’s military might would be directed against France and her allies. But if England succeeded in defeating Napoleon in Europe, the United States would be left to stand alone against the world’s mightiest nation.

    In contrast to England’s great...

    (pp. 40-54)

    Despite Governor Shelby’s concern for public morale, war spirit in Kentucky was unaffected by the early defeats inflicted upon the United States in the Northwest. Kentuckians were shocked by the surrender of Detroit and the capture of Forts Michilimackinac and Dearborn. But they remained highly confident that the losses would soon be retrieved and Canada conquered. The setbacks suffered on the Canadian border were attributed almost entirely to Hull’s personal unsuitability for command. “Of Hull’s treachery scarcely a doubt is entertained in this Country,” Henry Clay wrote to Secretary Monroe in September 1812. For his own part, Clay considered Hull’s...

    (pp. 55-68)

    Disillusionment with American prospects for conquering Canada continued to deepen in Kentucky during the early months of 1813. Although public attitudes in the state were more directly affected by events in the Northwest than elsewhere, the failure of the first northwestern campaign was not alone responsible. Nowhere could there be found a cause for encouragement in the existing military situation.

    As late as August 1812 Thomas Jefferson had written: “The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for … the final expulsion of...

    (pp. 69-84)

    The pall cast upon war spirit in Kentucky by the defeat of Dudley’s regiment at Fort Meigs continued to hang like a dark cloud over the state through the spring and early summer of 1813. During these months, patriotic Kentuckians clutched at whatever straws of success were available in an effort to maintain their hopes for final victory.

    Though American military operations on the Niagara front never achieved anything more decisive than a stalemate, theKentucky Gazettepointed in mid-June to the capture of York and Fort George as evidence that the war was turning in favor of the United...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 85-106)

    For Kentucky and the Northwest the victory at the Thames was of enormous importance. Its most important consequence was permanently to reestablish the American frontier on the Detroit River. But the temporary control that it brought over a portion of Canadian territory was also significant. Command of both shores of Lake Erie prevented a resurgence of British power on the lake and in Upper Canada. It ended the threat of a renewed British attack upon American territories north of the Ohio River and left Tecumseh’s Indian confederation not only leaderless but also isolated from its source of supplies and munitions....

    (pp. 107-112)

    The Treaty of Ghent settled none of the issues over which the War of 1812 had presumably been fought. The questions of impressment and neutral rights were not mentioned, and other substantive questions were referred to commissions for future settlement. In essence both sides simply agreed to cease hostilities and return to their prewar territorial boundaries.

    In Kentucky initial public reactions to the treaty ranged from dismay to relief. Those who were at first dismayed by the peace terms contended that the United States had failed to gain positive recognition of the fundamental national rights which Americans had fought to...

  13. Bibliographical Essay
    (pp. 113-116)